Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Smashing misconceptions

Television programming decisions you don't expect


This weekend, I was feeling sick (based on the number of students who called in sick Monday, there's something going around), so I stayed home and rested while Pat went south to take care of some boat stuff.

I was crashed in my easy chair in the living room, munching on saltine crackers, and channel surfing. That activity has become more interesting since we got a digital TV converter box. While the newspaper listings give only one programming lineup for each channel, DTV allows channels to have sub-channels that aren't listed in the newspaper. So, for example, one of the major network channels has its regular channel (4.1 on the digital box) and also a 24/7 weather channel (4.2). The evangelical channels seem especially to have discovered the potential for sub-channels; one in the area has five: a regular televangelism channel, a Spanish-language televangelism channel, a movie channel playing classic films with uplifting content (such as Going My Way with Bing Crosby as a Catholic priest), a channel playing Christian rock videos, and a children's channel.

So I was surfing, primarily looking for sports content, while waiting for the American football game to begin. I found hockey, golf, soccer (well, actually, futbol), basketball (lots of basketball), skiing, and sailing.

Sailing? Sailing?!

Yes, sailing. A Spanish-language sub-channel was carrying the Volvo Ocean Race. It was originally in English and had been dubbed into Spanish, but the original English was muted enough that I couldn't catch it. Still, I enjoyed the action footage (including things breaking dramatically, such as booms and spinnaker poles, and the resultant shredded sails), and I found the New Year's celebration in Shanghai interesting. Pat's Spanish is much better than mine, so he would probably have been better able to catch what was going on. (I ran through the settings on the DTV box to see whether there was an English-language alternate audio program or English-language closed captioning – there wasn't.)

Now, here are a couple of notions that are widespread: One, sailing is an upper-class, lah-di-dah sport, and therefore only people of a higher economic status will be interested in it. Two, Spanish-language television programming in the U.S. is focused primarily on recent immigrants, most of whom have very little income and who are completely uncaring about elite sports like sailing.

Apparently, whoever is in charge of programming at that particular sub-channel is either unaware of the conventional wisdom, or he or she is willing to defy it. I'll take it. Even if my Spanish is rudimentary, I'd rather get sailing coverage in Spanish than not at all. And if seeing exciting coverage of sailing encourages Spanish-speaking people to get interested in the sport – no matter what their income level – I'm all for it. I can see it now … the South Valley Vatos sailing team.


Blogger Lydia Manx said...

Yeah, our 'air tv' set in kitchen gets the substations right now when there's a weak signal. With the conversion still taking place in San Diego regardless of the delay there are more and more nights we get weak signals. Then it goes to this local weather station. Have a converter box need to dig out this weekend and figure out. Will look for sailing!

Tue Feb 10, 05:31:00 PM MST  

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